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Old 03-27-2009, 03:15 PM   #1
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Vintage Airstream for Under $1,000?

I am currently in the market for a vintage Airstream trailer (approx. 1951-1969, 20-25 footer). I made the mistake of purchasing one too far away a couple of summers ago, anticipating driving out and towing it back, but it simply never happened (though it was a beautiful trailer, I'm now trying to sell it). Now I am looking for something local, in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been using Craigslist to locate a suitable trailer, and though I have found quite a few trailers that suited what I was looking for, the process itself seems kind of shaky.

I have seen gutted trailers listed for anywhere between $500 to $2,500, though 3 out of 4 sellers never respond to emails. The cheaper the trailer, the less likely the seller is to respond to emails and phone calls. Could these be fake ads; i.e., can an Airstream legitimately be had for less than $1,000? Or, on the contrary, is an asking price this low bound to create a sale within hours of posting, leading sellers to ignore subsequent responses to their ad? (Which begs the question, why ask so little?) I actually do not mind purchasing a gutted trailer, as I plan to renovate it entirely, but do not know what their actual value is.

If anyone has insights on locating and purchasing an inexpensive Airstream (is Craiglslist a poor avenue?), regardless of condition, and what their "real" value might be, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:57 PM   #2
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You have an interesting tow veh. per your profile. Do you have any pictures of it???
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Old 03-27-2009, 06:13 PM   #3
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Hello and welcome to the forums!

It is possible to find a vintage Airstream for $1,000 or a little less. If that is the case, then it is more than likely in need of a frame off restoration. And, likely gutted.... but if that is what you are looking for ~ they can be found, but often go quick if the shell is in good condition! Likely as not you will pay more.... but in today's economy where folks are getting desperate....

Here is a link to some good basic info on price vs. condition: Price vs. Condition - Airstream Values

I would look everywhere. Take side roads when you drive in the valley, check Craigslist daily, check ebay, check here at our classifieds! Look everywhere you can think. It often takes awhile to find just the one you are looking for at a price you are willing to pay.... but it happens!

Good luck on your search. In the meantime read through lots of posts here about Airstreams and learn all you can! Go to a rally and check out the trailers and ask the owners what they think about this and that.... it will always pay to do your homework!
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:26 PM   #4
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Hi Jh
I looked for a few months and found some very inexpensive trailers, as little as 900.00, but they were not ones that could be restored without almost complete rebuilding. I mean dented shells, large holes, even one that had been owned by a tile artist. That one had to have at least 2ooo# of tile installed in it! You are right about the cheap ones being hard to get a response on also. I found that when they are listed for less than about 2k dollars you have to get there FAST, or you don't stand a chance.

I finally opted for one that came up on craigslist, in Campbell. It was listed for more than I was wanting to spend but it had a new axle and tires worth about $1350.00, so seeing that I would not need to immediatly invest that time and money in replacing those items made it easier to pay more for it. The seller was also generous with me and shed about $1300.00 off his asking price to get into my range.

I would try to search below the radar if you have the time to. look at rv storage lots and repair facilities. Ask about any you see, and if they are not for sale, ask if they know of any that are. I pass by one in Hayward everyday on the way to work. It sits in a rv storage facility and looks like it hasn't moved in some time. The owners may have tired of paying storage fees on something they do not use anymore. I would bet that in these difficult times there are probably many old Airstreams in this predicament. Craigslist is a good tool also, but you can probably find a better deal this way with a little time invested.

If you need someone to look at a trailer in the south or east bay area, or Santa Cruz, with you, I would be happy to if we can connect on it at the right time. Also consider the area of Redwood city. There are some older trailer parks along 101 between Marsh rd and Woodside rd, and a rv repair place in the same neighborhood.

Happy hunting, Rich

By the way, what is it you are trying to sell?
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:36 PM   #5
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I just remembered, one of the "cheap trailer" sellers that did respond to me told me when he finally did call back, that he was totaly inundated with calls on his $1000.00 Airstream within an hour of posting. He changed his phone number because he was so overwhelmed by the number of people calling, wanting to see it right away. He called back me and one other guy, as we were the first two who left messages on it. The other guy got there first!

Figures

Rich
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Old 03-28-2009, 01:00 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the responses thus far.

Viking—I might indeed take you up on your offer to check out vintage Airstreams in the area. As for the one I am trying to sell, it is a '63 Flying Cloud...all the way out in Wisconsin! BTW, have you seen this ad, and/or tried to email the seller? I've been trying to contact them for the last couple of weeks, and have yet to get a response. You'd think if it was already sold, they'd simply remove the ad. Here is the ad:

1967 Airstream Saffari 22'


Sixty3TW4US—Here is a picture of my tow vehicle:



It ran beautifully...until the transmission blew out. I purchased an Airstream in Wisconsin a couple summers back, and planned to make the trek out there in this very car and tow it back. The trans blew out less than two weeks before I planned to make the journey, and I decided to not only pull the transmission, but the engine as well. I'm currently restoring the entire car.

CaddyGrn—The Price vs. Condition page is exactly what I needed. Very helpful information, thank you. You're right about taking side roads and such; I always seem to see old Airstreams out in the boonies, but never have the gumption to go and knock on doors and ask if they might consider selling them. Maybe I should rethink that.
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Old 03-28-2009, 06:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhealey1955 View Post
Thanks for all the responses thus far.

Viking—I might indeed take you up on your offer to check out vintage Airstreams in the area. As for the one I am trying to sell, it is a '63 Flying Cloud...all the way out in Wisconsin! BTW, have you seen this ad, and/or tried to email the seller? I've been trying to contact them for the last couple of weeks, and have yet to get a response. You'd think if it was already sold, they'd simply remove the ad. Here is the ad:

1967 Airstream Saffari 22'


Sixty3TW4US—Here is a picture of my tow vehicle:



It ran beautifully...until the transmission blew out. I purchased an Airstream in Wisconsin a couple summers back, and planned to make the trek out there in this very car and tow it back. The trans blew out less than two weeks before I planned to make the journey, and I decided to not only pull the transmission, but the engine as well. I'm currently restoring the entire car.

CaddyGrn—The Price vs. Condition page is exactly what I needed. Very helpful information, thank you. You're right about taking side roads and such; I always seem to see old Airstreams out in the boonies, but never have the gumption to go and knock on doors and ask if they might consider selling them. Maybe I should rethink that.

We found our airstream just that way, someone told us about it and we went and it's parked outback of the house, so I went to the door and asked if it was for sale. It wasn't "officially" for sale but we did end up buying it. So don't be shy about knocking on doors!

P.S. your car is cool, we collect old cars too, Harold, my husband actually chased down a guy hauling an old car on a flatbed once to be the first to make an offer, we bought that car too, He has no shame when it comes to old cars. We've got 8 of em! Way to many.


Annette
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jhealey1955 View Post
Thanks for all the responses thus far.

Viking—I might indeed take you up on your offer to check out vintage Airstreams in the area. As for the one I am trying to sell, it is a '63 Flying Cloud...all the way out in Wisconsin! BTW, have you seen this ad, and/or tried to email the seller? I've been trying to contact them for the last couple of weeks, and have yet to get a response. You'd think if it was already sold, they'd simply remove the ad. Here is the ad:

1967 Airstream Saffari 22'


Sixty3TW4US—Here is a picture of my tow vehicle:



It ran beautifully...until the transmission blew out. I purchased an Airstream in Wisconsin a couple summers back, and planned to make the trek out there in this very car and tow it back. The trans blew out less than two weeks before I planned to make the journey, and I decided to not only pull the transmission, but the engine as well. I'm currently restoring the entire car.

CaddyGrn—The Price vs. Condition page is exactly what I needed. Very helpful information, thank you. You're right about taking side roads and such; I always seem to see old Airstreams out in the boonies, but never have the gumption to go and knock on doors and ask if they might consider selling them. Maybe I should rethink that.
Nice car! The Safari is a good size. Trailers like this don't stick around long so go take a look at it. Take a look a my images and you can get an idea of what it might look like. Good luck!
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhealey1955 View Post
I am currently in the market for a vintage Airstream trailer (approx. 1951-1969, 20-25 footer). I made the mistake of purchasing one too far away a couple of summers ago, anticipating driving out and towing it back, but it simply never happened (though it was a beautiful trailer, I'm now trying to sell it). Now I am looking for something local, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Seems to me that if you already own an Airstream (even if it's in Wisconsin) it would be cheaper to go retrieve it rather than start over with a new "$1000 trailer". The cost of entry is only a fraction of what owning a vintage Airstream costs once you get into restoration.

<$1000 trailers are out there - I have a friend pay $1 for one a couple of years ago (and it was in GREAT albeit original shape)...but that is definitely not the norm.

Shari
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:59 AM   #10
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I agree with Shari. It might be more worth your while to go get the trailer you already own, or hire a person to tow it back for you.
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Old 03-28-2009, 09:08 AM   #11
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Check out Frank's Blog (62overlander): Frank's Trailer Works Blog He has a transporter who he was very pleased with. Start with what you have, it is much cheaper to start with a usable trailer than to rebuild a cheap trailer.

I obtained the Double Door Liner for a trip from So Cal to Florida, it is a very unique trailer, but I will never recover the cost to rebuild the unit.

Bill
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Old 03-28-2009, 11:45 AM   #12
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Jhealy, I would be happy to help you out. You can send me a PM or e-mail to discuss.

The trailer in the ad you posted is in Lake County. I wouldn't go there on a trailer hunt without a gun. Way too many wierdos out there! Ditto for anything listed for sale in the mission district of San Francisco, Oakland, or Richmond. You're more likely to get robbed at gunpoint than to find the AS of your dreams.

I would look south, like Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Martin, Hollister and maybe Watsonville. Those areas are likely for old trailers, as they are more rural and less likely to have taken the time and effort to list them for sale. I'll start paying more attention to local craigslist listings in the meantime, and let you know if I see anything. If you have anymore ideas of what you want in an AS it might help to refine the search.

It would probably cost you a couple of thousand to get your trailer from Wisconsin to here any way you approach it. Selling it out there may be your best option.

Good luck, Rich
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Old 03-28-2009, 12:04 PM   #13
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Try looking east as well..

We live in Silicon Valley, and other posters are correct... A well advertised shell with rusted frame, gutted interior and mouse droppings is going to sell for more than $1,000.... For you to find one in good shape at that price point, you'll need to go exploring, lift rocks, talk to members of Vintage Club and keep scouring Craig's list and other classified sites.. Be very wary of E-Bay (too much fraud these days..) and don't send cashier check or wire money to someone for a trailer you haven't seen (or had inspected) and verified ownership of...

Also understand you are going to spend many thousands of $$ to fix up a $1,000 trailer, when there are clean and habitable trailers needing minor touch ups already priced at $7 to 10K..

In addition to looking south (Gilroy to Salinas and beyond..) you should also look east (Tracy to Modesto to Stockton) where economy is hurting and someone might not know what they've got in terms of value...
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Old 03-28-2009, 04:21 PM   #14
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Send me a PM if youd like to part with, or have your 63 FC stored here in WI...Im kinda centrally located and could possibly be a 'foster parent'
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